Comox Valley campaign to stop contracting out gains public support

A campaign to stop the privatization of housekeeping, laundry and security services at St. Joseph’s Hospital in the Comox Valley is gradually gaining community-wide attention and support.

Using the slogan, “Not a Penny for Profit”, health care workers have staged a series of afternoon rush-hour rallies over the past three weeks, circulated petitions and voiced their opposition to contracting out in the local media and other forums.

The result? Organizers say a growing number of community members are anxious to throw their support behind the 50 health care workers who stand to lose their jobs if the hospital follows through on its privatization plans.

“Support has been tremendous,” says local HEU chair Bonnie Mcglashan. “People are eager to sign the petition. They not only honk their horns during our rush-hour rallies, some people actually make a point of getting out of the cars to join us, or come over and talk with us about the implications of what is happening at the hospital.”

Although St. Joseph’s issued a Request for Proposals last month, which will close August 20, a spokesman for the hospital insists privatization is not a done deal. “We still need to determine if contracting out is actually the way we want to go,” Gib French told local media.

In the meantime, the campaign to build community support for public health care services continues. Next steps include a community-wide demonstration on August 27, weekly sidewalk rallies and a presentation to the hospital’s board of directors on September 4.